Since monitoring began in mid-January, the levels of fine particles in Winona air has fluctuated from “good” to “moderate” according to preliminary data from the YMCA rooftop monitors, making it better than the worst parts of the Twin Cities. While data on silica dust is still forthcoming, data collecting on even smaller dust of all sorts — known as fine particles, or PM2.5 is being posted online nearly in real time. MPCA officials say that the PM2.5 data is being used as a proxy for measuring diesel fumes.
According to the MPCA, days with “moderate” air quality “may cause health effects for people who are very sensitive to air pollution.” For sensitive individuals on such days, the agency recommends limiting time near pollution sources, rescheduling outdoor activity for times when air pollution is at its lowest, often in the morning, and/or reducing the length or intensity of activity.
The highest level recorded thus far, a score of 93 on the MPCA’s Air Quality Index taken on January 9, is the upper edge of “moderate” air quality, and less than the 101 that the MPCA considers “unhealthy for sensitive groups.” On such days, air pollution is “expected to cause health effects for those with pre-existing cardiovascular or lung disease, older adults, children, and otherwise healthy individuals who are participating in activities that require heavy [exertion] or extended duration,” according to the MPCA.
The YMCA monitor data is available at www.pca.state.mn.us/index.php/air/air-quality-and-pollutants/general-air-quality/air-quality-index/current-condition-details.html by selecting Winona under the “location” drop bar and PM2.5 under the “pollutant” drop bar.